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This week, the campaign for the Tennessee State Senate turned ugly when the Tennessee Democratic Party and Senator Tim Barnes used Clarksville’s Gateway Medical Center to attack Republican Dr. Mark Green.
It made our entire community look ugly.
In a direct mail advertisement sent to voters in the 22nd district, the mailer “implies” that Dr. Green, during his tenure there, was contributing to Gateway’s performance, as reported in a Consumer Reports article listing the Clarksville hospital as “ranked 37th, lowest in the state.”
This drew the rage of the hospital and it’s board of trustees. Now, while there’s certainly room for criticism about Gateway, they shouldn’t have been drawn into this race as some sort of political “punching bag” to distract voters about the issues in this particular race.
Oh, and just what are those issues guys?
Regardless of how you feel about our hospital, the attack made Clarksville look bad, and I would just once like somebody outside of Clarksville to see us for the community we are. Trust me, I know a little bit about needing some encouragement.
But then again, that’s politics.
Senator Tim Barnes won the 22nd district Senate seat in a controversial race with former state Senator Rosalind Kurita, and had to survive a legal battle just to keep his seat. Since becoming state Senator, Barnes has been navigating his way around the legislature, working on a number of important issues for his constituents. He’s done a good job learning his way around the Nashville political scene, with a legislature that has no money to “squabble” over.
Dr. Mark Green is a decorated war veteran and author. He is the president of Align MD, a medical company that provides emergency room doctors for various hospitals around the country. He was a physician at Gateway from 2004-2009. He was the chief medical officer during the capture and care of Saddam Hussein when American forces captured the murderous dictator, and wrote a book entitled, “A night with Saddam.
I, like many, was shocked at the attack, because first, it didn’t fit the style of Senator Barnes and the man I’ve come to know over the years. Doesn’t fit his personality to pick a fight or “stir it up.” Somehow, I don’t see Tim Barnes tapping a guy on the shoulder and asking, “wanna step outside chump?”
The campaign flyer was a “cheap shot” drawing an innocent bystander into the fight. Kind of like watching two people argue about something, then one of them look at you and go, “what are you looking at? You want a piece of me?”
Gateway Medical Center is not anywhere near being an issue in this race for state Senate. I want to know what the two candidates are going to do to advance the interests of Clarksville Tennessee. The quality of healthcare is a concern for all of us, and too many people complain about our hospital, and for good reason, but I’m not sure voters are going to connect those dots and assume that Green was solely responsible for Gateway’s rating. If he has that much influence, then I definitely want him in Nashville.
I spoke with several members of the hospital board, and they are furious at the attack, and tell me they have made huge strides in improving the quality of care at Gateway but admit they have a long way to go. I had one member tell me, off the record, “I lost a lot of respect for Tim today.”
Both candidates are good people. Quality individuals. Family men. Why can’t they campaign on that?
Politics is not about issues anymore. It’s about personalities. Maybe it’s always been that way. I don’t know.
What are you looking at? Wanna step outside chump?
Hank Bonecutter is a retired broadcaster and media consultant based in Clarksville, Tennessee. His career includes stints at WKDA/WKDF and WKQB Rock 106FM, WLAC-AM in Nashville.
He concluded his career as owner/talk show host at WJZM-AM in Clarksville.
He has also performed stand-up comedy at various comedy clubs around the region, including Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville, and The Comedy Catch in Chattanooga.
Currently the President of Bonehead Promotions, he’s an advertising consultant and media strategist.
An avid motorcyclist, Hank blogs about his travels exclusively at Clarksville Online.
You can follow Hank on Facebook and Twitter, @bonecutter01 and @boneheadnews.
TopicsAlign MD, Clarksville TN, Consumer Reports, Democrat, Gateway Medical Center, Mark Green, Nashville TN, Republican, Rosalind Kurita, Saddam Hussein, Tennessee Senate, Tennessee State Senator, Tim Barnes
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